What is VO2 Max and what does it measure?

woman skipping

VO2 max (also known as maximal oxygen uptake) is a measure of the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can use during exercise. It is typically expressed as milliliters of oxygen per minute per kilogram of body weight (ml/min/kg).

VO2 max is a widely recognized measure of cardiovascular fitness and endurance capacity, and is commonly used to assess an individual's aerobic fitness level. The test involves measuring the volume of oxygen consumed by the body during maximal exercise, which is typically performed on a treadmill or stationary bike.

Higher VO2 max values indicate better cardiovascular fitness, as the body is able to utilize oxygen more efficiently and effectively during exercise. A high VO2 max is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic health conditions, as well as improved athletic performance.

Many fitness watches with a built in heart rate monitor will calculate VO2Max. Whilst this is not as accurate as a lab test it is generally assumed correct to +- 5% and accurate enough for tracking fitness improvement.  The calculation is based on heart rate. Note that wrist strap heart rate measures have up to 13% error rate compared to 2% for a chest strap. Look for yours in your fitness tracker app and watch it improve as you progress with your training. Do the things. Be well!